Tale of two farmers a warning on GM crops
“The honeymoon is over for farmers who have been using genetically modified (GM) crops in North America but Australian farmers still have an opportunity to say no to the unholy alliance of agribusiness and agriculture,” says Ian Cohen, NSW Greens MLC.
“I will be introducing a private member’s bill into the NSW Upper House to protect farmers who want their crops to remain GM free,” says Mr Cohen.
“Visiting US Farmer, Moe Parr, has told a public forum in Parliament House about his experience of being sued by GM multinational Monsanto. Another farmer, Canadian Ross Murray, has ended up having to use more pesticides after introducing GM crops, and after 10 years farming GM and non-GM canola, he says the yields were lower with the GM product.”
“ With the first GM canola crop planted in NSW last year, the urgency of protecting farmers and non-GM crops cannot be understated. We need to understand what has been happening in other countries and learn from their experience.”
“Currently in NSW, a farmer has to pay royalties via the grain handlers to the patent owners of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) if there is more than 0.9% GM content in their product.
The Greens Bill, the Gene Technology (GM Crop Moratorium) Amendment (Right to Damages) Bill 2009 will enable a person who suffers damages as a result of genetically modified plant material contaminating their land to sue companies promoting and selling the technology.
“This bill will place the responsibility onto the companies who are aggressively spruiking this technology to farmers.
“Why should farmers whose crops have been contaminated have to pay the multinational owners for the privilege? My bill says the reverse should be the case – a farmer should be able to sue the patent owner for contaminating their crop.
“The experience of the US and Canada shows that without watertight protections for our farmers who want to keep their GM free status, GM seeds will contaminate NSW farms and farmers will have big companies pursuing them for money. What NSW farmer would win in a battle with a giant like Monsanto?